Email etiquette; how to be the most proficient merchandiser in the company

Sheikh Md Kamrul Hasan,   PhD Research Fellow (AeU, Malaysia), Head of Merchandising,   PROMODA   
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Email does not represent rather presents yourself and your company manifestly creating the impression and instantaneous image. Email, almost the only powerful communication medium in the garment industry which have been tuned the business mobility melodramatically, and driving the total business system vibrantly.

The core objective is to shape up an effective business communication in garment industry, especially engrossed for the front line staff merchandisers who are predominantly the responsible for executional tasks of development and garment shipment. In garment industry, merchandisers should change their thought from today that the purpose of email communication is profusely service oriented; service to buyer, service to supplier, and service to line senior/the company.

The features can be decorated and explained by following 5D, pertinent for all email users.

Figure 1: 5D features
Figure 1: 5D features

Further to discuss more detail, the main streams of this article are:

  • Email Portrait
  • Email Flow- Chart
  • Merchandising Activities
  • Email Courtesy

Email Portrait:

Email portrait is comprised with four important features strongly relevant to merchandisers’ activities.

a. Email Subject

  • Subject must be articulated by mentioning the particular style reference or Order reference for every merchandising communication. Without mentioning style/order reference, it creates trouble for email receiver to identify the case.
  • Sending two emails simultaneously, it should add a denotation like ‘revised, ‘correction’ at the same subject.
  • Receiving emails with imperfect subject from others, if necessary, it should be modified to more relevant information in next reply.

b. CC/ BCC loop

  • It should focus the most appropriate persons in CC/BCC loop, if necessary; it should be escalated with Line seniors before sending any email.
  • Very basic matter is not mix up by keeping buyer and suppliers in same communication.

c. Addressing & signature

Addressing should be with cordiality, we can follow existing office culture as differs in buying house and factory office, however, email without any kind of addressing is always noticed as arrogance. To remove existing ambiguity about ‘Dear/Mr.’, the ancient courtesy should be known to all, for an example name ‘Kamrul Hasan’, you should use either ‘Dear Kamrul’, or ‘Mr. Hasan’.

Very important is to mention your name, designation, address, phone contact, and your company name at the bottom signature. Otherwise, receiver likelihood to reply you in erroneous customs or time consuming due to disinclinations, even sometimes, disaster cannot be avoided due to misunderstanding which could be solved easily through a short telephone conversation. Off course, receiver will be frustrated not to get your phone contact at the bottom of your email signature.

d. Email body

Proper language with correct spelling and using easy words, standard decoration avoiding colorful background and fancy symbols, and valid data presentation are the basic requirements of effective communication, which can dissolve merchandising issues quickly. There is no other alternative option, merchandisers must follow ‘to the point’ writing method to get quick feedback from receivers, and try to control total number of communication for an specific issue.

Email flow-chart for Merchandisers:

Figure 2: Email flow chart for Merchandisers.
Figure 2: Email flow chart for Merchandisers.

Although factory merchandisers are always in rush to visit buying office and material suppliers’ mill, they should try to maintain standard policy ‘reply within 24 hours’, at least inform the sender that you are working on that issue and will reply him/her within the specific date.

quote-email-flowEmail reading is the first bridge to overcome the barriers, the issue would be solved in next email if you perceive well exactly what the sender means; otherwise it leads to too many communications towards to an intricate case. Read the email many times if necessary, further anymore ambiguity, another explanatory message can be sent what you have understood exactly. The other honest option is to discuss over phone to perceive clear concept further to reply.

Flow-chart shows the significant fragment ‘record keeping for quick feedback.’ Email archive for future record & reference is the most imperative task for merchandisers. It is an art how precisely you can keep your records, which will inaugurate you as a smart merchandiser or make you defaulter in every moment to the higher management due to customer dissatisfaction. Other significant purpose of email archive is to provide quick information for future reply as data supporter.

He/she is the proficient and most demanding merchandiser to the higher management and to the customers, who can give quick feedback with required information within the shortest time for solution. That is only possible by self-organized email archive system which makes you different from other merchandisers. In critical situations where the higher management   involves, they never allow any single moment delay providing necessary data and information from merchandisers. Such kind of information delay resulting to decision delay and devastation for the company in terms of money and business reputation.

Merchandising Activities:

It is extensively observed that some merchandisers are always stressful, cannot finish daily tasks on time, and seems huge workload due to entangling almost every order. But other merchandisers, same time, are plying role smoothly with same workload. Is it the question of personal competency only? Yes, but personal investigation found that it is not about any extra ordinary qualification rather matter of personal technique; merchandisers who spend much more time in writing enormous long and descriptive emails, sink always into deep hindrance with frustration in daily life.

Another personal investigation has been found that merchandisers spend around 70% time in daily work only for email writing purpose. Smart merchandisers emphasize on short but contented emails with short sentences, they usually gain sufficient time to focus on other important activities and become visualized to the higher management. Some special guidelines are given below to improve personal techniques.

  • Write short but contented message with short sentences only, avoid passive voice in sentence making.
  • Do not write only about the problem, you also should declare all possible solutions in your hand. It will save time, reduce the size of communication, and abate your stress.
  • Typing a new email every day, a short-cut fixed format can be used for common purpose like sample dispatch letter, approval follow-up, material booking etc.
  • To make communication effective and to avoid back & forth communication, you should rather give all information at the first time, definitely will reduce the number of emails.
  • Any confusion in approval comment, you can make it clear by your smart reply mentioning what you have perceived, and fulfill what is incomplete in sender’s email.
  • Although sending any long full report through attachment file, you also should mention the summery/key points at the email body.
  • In price negotiation and others, it is very important to maintain unique communication chain. If you receive multiple emails for same issue, you must compile and edit yourself, and maintain only one email communication.
  • Make separate folders or sub-folders buyer wise, supplier wise, and intra-department wise communication. If necessary, communication needs to be archived case wise as well.

Merchandisers should think a while before sending an email, instant check-list like escalate with line senior, data validity, and the draft revision can save from  any unknown cataclysm or tragedy.

Intention of email reply must be positive and towards the solution, not to make the issue more complex. Sometimes, merchandisers follow wrong way with the negative instructions of company higher management, which might have negative impact on their personal image & career as well. Merchandisers should be vigilant for it.

Email Courtesy:

  • At least email receipt acknowledgement is the first courtesy applicable for everyone.
  • No emotion and no antagonism as everything is going to be recorded. What you feel right today, might be distressing and discomforting for you in next other day, better to avoid any kind of grumpiness and threating.
  • Personal discussion and proper investigation is exceedingly required before criticizing someone in email.
  • If the receiver of your email does not perceive the content, you should not disparage rather think how to improve your email in more easier and convenient way.

If you respect somebody today, you must be respected tomorrow naturally. Lastly, your email reflects your insights more scrupulously, the more you contemplate to improve it the more you will achieve inevitably.

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